Drug rehab agencies, psychiatrists warn against cannabis legalisation

Drug rehabilitation agencies, including government-run Sedqa, do not want cannabis to be legalised and argue that ‘recreational’ label normalised and popularised the drug

Drug rehab agencies oppose cannabis legalisation but do not want users to be stigmatised
Drug rehab agencies oppose cannabis legalisation but do not want users to be stigmatised

Cannabis must not be made legal because of the social and health problems it can cause but users must not be stigamtised, drug rehabilitation agencies said.

Caritas, the Oasi Foundation and Sedqa, a government agency, said they were concerned by the use of the term “recreational cannabis”, which they argued normalised and popularised the drug.

The three agencies that work in the drug rehabailitation sector were joined by the Association of Psychiatrists in warning about the dangers posed by cannabis.

“We keep hoping that proposed laws do not open the doors and windows for people to access the drug legally, and all social consequences and disadvantages this will cause to the most vulnerable are considered well,” the organisations said.

Government is considering the legalisation of cannabis and in a recent message to mark 4/20, the day (20 April) used by pro-legalisation cannabis activists to raise awareness about the subject, Parliamentary Secretary Rosianne Cutajar reiterated the commitment to deliver on the pledge.

The organisation welcomed developments over the past few years that decriminalised the use in small quantities of cannabis and the regulation of medicinal cannabis.

They called for cannabis users not to be stigmatised but expressed concern on the message that cannabis could have recreational value.

“From the experiences we have of people who smoke cigarettes and drink alcohol, when a drug becomes popular and legal, the tendency is to use it more and consequently its negative impacts are felt more,” the organisations said.

They also noted that recent studies have confirmed that cannabis use by adolescents can cause damage to the brain and increases the risk of dependency on other drugs.

They also flagged the risk some ran of developing paranoia and psychosis if they used cannabis.

READ ALSO: MaltaToday Survey | 32,000 say they have used cannabis, but just one in five supports legalisation

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